Saturday 1/4/2017 (4:30 AM PT)
Chelsea vs. Arsenal (5)
After only Manchester City capitalized on Chelsea’s midweek draw, this looks like the top six’s last stand against the Blues’ Premier League title challenge. If Chelsea secure all three points at Stamford Bridge, they will have at minimum a nine-point lead with only two top-six opponents left on the schedule. Arsenal smacked the Blues 3-0 in the reverse fixture, but that game was the last one before Antonio Conte
(7:00 AM PT)
Southampton vs. West Ham (2)
Saints are one of the fastest-sinking teams in the league right now, with just one win in their last six games, and they come in off a loss to lowly Swansea. Meanwhile, West Ham looked to be finally finding their groove, but in a microcosm of their season, they took two steps back this week with a 4-0 rout at the hands of Manchester City. These sides have been two of the most disappointing all year, and their wonky form makes this a tough fixture to pick as the points are there to be snatched if one of these teams can break out of its funk.
West Brom vs. Stoke City (3)
Similarly to the match above, Stoke meet West Brom in a battle of middling sides. The Baggies looked like they might break away from the mid-tier pack, but that effort has been halted a bit recently, and they looked destined to finish in the chasing group. Stoke haven't lost in four league matches and have secured quality draws against Manchester United and Everton their last two times out, so they might finally be reaching the high potential their squad has. Given the other fixtures in the time slot, this might be the best watch.
Crystal Palace vs. Sunderland (3)
We are slowly making our way towards the point of the season when the bottom-of-the-table fixtures become fascinating, and this could be the natural start to that run. Both sides are desperate for points, and Sunderland know that one win will put them right back in the race for safety. Palace look to be trending in the right direction, but they are still flirting with disaster for now and need to win their home games. Expect a lot of fight from both sides with critical points up for grabs.
Watford vs. Burnley (3)
The Clarets are on fire, with four wins in their last six PL games and the other two being one-goal losses to Arsenal and Manchester City. Watford, meanwhile, have been tumbling, and even though they come in off a big win over Arsenal, the Hornets exploited a Gunners squad that was completely asleep from the opening whistle, and the win was more due to Arsenal’s incompetence than Watford’s brilliance. On first glance, it appears that this is an evenly matched, middle-of-the-table battle between sides two points apart, but given the respective forms over the last month, even on the road, the Clarets are probably favorites.
Everton vs. Bournemouth (2)
Despite drawing against Stoke on Wednesday, Everton bring a good deal of momentum with them
Hull City vs. Liverpool (3)
This is one of those games with implications at both ends of the table. Hull have strengthened their squad, and while they still sit in 19th place, the Tigers will be able to take significant momentum back home following the midweek draw at Old Trafford. Liverpool also earned a solid point in this week in a draw against league-leading Chelsea, but if the Reds are to really make a run at the title, they need to win almost every game from here on out. They’ll be the favorites Saturday, but Hull have proved this season that they’re capable of scaring some of the league’s biggest sides, and with so much on the line, Liverpool must be wary.
(9:30 AM PT)
Tottenham vs. Middlesbrough (2)
With Spurs at home, this looks a fairly straightforward affair, but Boro have given problems to plenty of teams this season. In the midweek, Tottenham faltered in a scoreless draw with Sunderland, and their back line hasn’t been at its best recently without the injured Jan Vertonghen. Middlesbrough aren’t an attacking side, though, and they’ll have a tough time controlling the ball against Spurs. Both teams are solid enough defensively, though, and that could make for a tense, low-scoring affair at White Hart Lane, especially if Tottenham can’t get going in the early part of the game.
Sunday 1/5/2017 (5:30 AM PT)
Manchester City vs. Swansea City (2)
Suddenly, Swansea have some real momentum at their backs. Winners of three of their last four, the Swans look to have steadied the ship under new boss Paul Clement, and while they’ll still need to collect points over the coming months to get away from the relegation zone for good, things are looking up in Wales. It may be tough for Swansea to get anything at the Etihad, but the Swans did win at Anfield just
(8:00 AM PT)
Leicester City vs. Manchester United (4)
This game isn’t what it was last season, but it’s worth remembering just how much talent will be on display in this one. Leicester, no matter how much they’re struggling, are still the defending PL champions, and they have the ability to put up goals in a hurry if their opponent isn’t careful. United are a tough nut to crack, however; the Red Devils remain unbeaten in 14 league games. Still, they’ve drawn their last three in the Premier League, so Claudio Ranieri may take just a bit of confidence in with him despite the Foxes’ poor run of late.
Bonus European Game of the week: Juventus vs. Inter Milan, Sunday, 2/5/17 11:45 AM PT
Unlike they have been for most of the last five seasons, Juventus might actually be catchable this year in the Serie A, but they can put a major dent in anyone's title hopes this weekend by securing three points against Inter. The Milan side sits in fourth currently, three points outside a Champions League place, so the points are critical for them not only in the title race, but in the fight for Italy’s top three and a spot in Europe’s most lucrative competition. Despite being on the road, Inter should have a good amount of confidence given they overturned a 1-0 deficit in the reverse fixture and dealt Juve one of their only four losses of the season. That win doesn’t make them favorites, but if Inter can unlock the Old Lady this weekend, they might just kick the Serie A title race into gear.